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Standard 52-card deck

A set of 52 playing cards of the Rouennais or English pattern by Piatnik & Söhne

The deck of 52 French playing cards is the most common deck of playing cards used today. It includes thirteen ranks of each of the four French suits, clubs (), diamonds (), hearts () and spades (), with reversible "court" or face cards. Some modern designs, however, have done away with reversible face cards. Each suit includes an ace, depicting a single symbol of its suit; a king, queen, and jack, each depicted with a symbol of its suit; and ranks two through ten, with each card depicting that many symbols (pips) of its suit. Anywhere from one to four (most often two) Jokers, often distinguishable with one being more colorful than the other, are added to commercial decks, as some games require this extended deck. Modern playing cards carry index labels on opposite corners (rarely, all four corners) to facilitate identifying the cards when they overlap and so that they appear identical for players on opposite sides. The most popular stylistic pattern of the French Deck is sometimes referred to as "English" or "Anglo-American playing cards".

It has been shown that because of the large number of possibilities from shuffling a 52 card deck, it is probable that no two fair card shuffles have ever yielded exactly the same order of cards. As a comparison to how huge the number of possibilities is, to finish sorting all combinations starting from the Big Bang at planck speed would make the universe roughly ten million times older than its current age.

English pattern cards and nicknames

The fanciful design and manufacturer's logo commonly displayed on the Ace of Spades began under the reign of James I of England, who passed a law requiring an insignia on that card as proof of payment of a tax on local manufacture of cards. Until August 4, 1960, decks of playing cards printed and sold in the United Kingdom were liable for taxable duty and the Ace of Spades carried an indication of the name of the printer and the fact that taxation had been paid on the cards. The packs were also sealed with a government duty wrapper.

Though specific design elements of the court cards are rarely used in game play and many differ between designs, a few are notable.

Size of the cards

Category Imperial Measure (inches) Metric Measure (mm)
Length Width Length Width
Bridge size
3.5 2.25 88.9 57.15
Poker size
3.5 2.5 88.9 63.5

Modern playing cards are most commonly referred to as either 'poker' or 'bridge' sized; nominal dimensions are summarized in the adjacent table. Notwithstanding these generally accepted dimensions, there is no formal requirement for precise adherence and minor variations are produced by various manufacturers.

The most common sizes for playing cards are poker size (2.5 x 3.5 inches (64 x 89 mm), or B8 size according to ISO 216) and bridge size (2.25 x 3.5 inches (57 x 89 mm)), the latter being narrower, and thus more suitable for games such as bridge in which a large number of cards must be held concealed in a player's hand. In most casino poker games, the bridge-sized card is used; the use of less material means that a bridge deck is slightly cheaper to make, and a casino may use many thousands of decks per day so the minute per-deck savings add up. Other sizes are also available, such as a smaller 'patience' size (usually 1.75 x 2.375 inches (44.5 x 60.3 mm)) for solitaire, tall narrow designs (usually 1.25 x 3 inches (32 x 76 mm)) for travel and larger 'jumbo' ones for card tricks. The weight of an average B8-sized playing card is 0.063 ounces (1.8 g), and a 52 card deck 3.3 ounces (94 g).

The thickness and weight of modern playing cards is subject to numerous variables related to their purpose of use and associated material design for durability, stiffness, texture and appearance.

Rank and color

Some decks include additional design elements. Casino blackjack decks may include markings intended for a machine to check the ranks of cards, or shifts in rank location to allow a manual check via inlaid mirror. Many casino decks and solitaire decks have four indices instead of the usual two. Many modern decks have bar code markings on the edge of the face to enable them to be sorted by machine (for playing duplicate bridge, especially simultaneous events where the same hands may be played at many different venues). Many decks have large indices, largely for use in stud poker games, where being able to read cards from a distance is a benefit and hand sizes are small. Some decks use four colors for the suits in order to make it easier to tell them apart: the most common set of colors is black (spades ♠), red (hearts ), blue (diamonds ) and green (clubs ). Another common color set is borrowed from the German suits and uses green Spades and yellow Diamonds with red Hearts and black Clubs.

When giving the full written name of a specific card, the rank is given first followed by the suit, e.g., "Ace of Spades". Shorthand notation may reflect this by listing the rank first, "A♠"; this is common usage when discussing poker. Alternately, listing the suit first, as in "♠K" for a single card or "♠AKQ" for multiple cards, is common practice when writing about bridge; this helps differentiate between the card(s) and the contract (e.g. "4", a contract of Four Hearts.) Tens may be either abbreviated to T or written as 10.

Ace 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Jack Queen King
Clubs
Diamonds
Hearts
Spades

Text

As of Unicode 7.0 playing cards are now represented. Note that the following chart ("Playing Cards", Range: 1F0A0-1F0FF) includes cards from the Tarot Nouveau deck as well as the standard 52-card deck.

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Tabletop games: Rules and Strategy